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Anti-testing Letters

[Susan notes: The New York Times abets Coleman in muddying the Common Core waters.

They've got us where they want us: arguing about how much fiction there really is in the prescribed curriculum. As Thomas Pynchon observed in Gravity's Rainbow, "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers."]

To the editor

From David Coleman

Published in New York Times (12/05/2012)

Re What Should Children Read? (Sunday Review, Nov. 25):

Sara Mosle wrote a thoughtful article about what students read and the Common Core Standards, but it does not make clear facts that demonstrate the central role of reading fiction in the standards.

First, the standards for the English Language Acquisition classroom keep the focus mostly on fiction, in which the study of Shakespeare is explicitly required, as well as novels, including classic American works. The change the standards make to the grades 6-to-12 E.L.A. classroom is to invite more literary nonfiction as defined in the standards, including essays, narrative nonfiction and other literary writing to a wide audience that makes an argument or conveys information.

Our country's founding documents and the great conversation they inspired are offered as explicit models for high-quality literary nonfiction for the E.L.A. classroom.

To be absolutely clear, reading fiction retains a central role in the Common Core Standards in grades K to 12, and the primary role in English Language Arts for grades 6 to 12, where it is complemented by high-quality literary nonfiction.


The writer, the president and chief executive of the College Board, helped design and promote the Common Core.

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